(CNN) -- Yusef Ahmed's double strike gave Qatar a crucial 2-0 triumph over China on Wednesday which kept alive the 2011 Asian Cup host nation's hopes of progressing past the group stage.
Qatar went into the match at Doha's Khalifa Stadium knowing that only a win would do, and the stakes were raised when Uzbekistan beat Kuwait in the day's earlier Group A match for a second successive victory.
Ahmed netted a goal in each half to leave the group poised for an exciting finale, with Uzbekistan on six points, China and Qatar on three and Kuwait yet to register -- but still in with a chance of going through.
Qatar, seeking to reach the knockout stage for only the second time, will face Middle Eastern rivals Kuwait at the same venue on Sunday.
Uzbekistan, quarterfinalists for the past two tournaments, take on two-time runners-up China at Al Gharafa Stadium also in the capital.
The tournament hosts lost 2-0 to Uzbekistan last Friday, but bounced back well to defeat a Chinese side who won by the same margin against Kuwait.
Striker Ahmed broke the deadlock in the 27th minute with a superb right-foot volley after China's defense could not deal with a long ball forward.
The 22-year-old made it safe in first-half injury-time when he did well to turn on the edge of the penalty area and slide a low shot past the despairing dive of goalkeeper Zeng Cheng.
Uzbekistan triumphed 2-1 to leave Kuwait needing a miracle to qualify for the last eight, as captain Server Djeparov scored a spectacular 65th-minute winner from long range.
Bader Al Mutawa had leveled the score with a penalty four minutes after halftime when substitute Hamad Nayef was fouled by Anzur Ismailov.
Four minutes before the break, Uzbekistan fortuitously took the lead when Makism Shatskikh's freekick deflected off teammate Azizbek Haydarov and past Kuwait keeper Nawaf Al Khaldi.
Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abramov believes his 108th-ranked team can continue to cause surprises at the tournament.
"I hope Uzbekistan will be champion in this tournament, but there are many other good teams here so it will be difficult, but I hope it will be Uzbekistan," he told the Asian federation's website.
"We must look at the next game and think because some players have yellow cards, so we must check our situation. I have a plan to play China. But first I need to check the situation."